Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.

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Re: Amtrak eyes Lehigh Valley Test run to NYC

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:00 am

Appears to be a "Cub" reporter at a small market newspaper (am I being too much a "paper snob" and belittling the Express-Times to much, Mr. JP?) rummaging trash cans for a story.

The inaccuracies start with the stock photo; when did an ACS-64 become an Acela?
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Re: Amtrak eyes Lehigh Valley Test run to NYC

Postby Hawaiitiki » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:40 am

However, unlikely that this happens, and even more unlikely that service gets restored, it still is an interesting prospect. I'm guessing that this would be an Allentown>Bethlehem>Easton>High-Bridge>Newark run. Can't go to NYC without a locomotive change and likely not worth the headache for Amtrak to run to Hoboken.
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Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:29 pm

To my "untrained" (pun intended!) eyes, this does seem to relate to part of the LV, now under the control of NS.

LehighValleyLive.com

I'm also going to put a topic in Amtrak to discuss the inspection run itself.

Amtrak eyes Lehigh Valley passenger rail test run to NYC metro area
SNIPS:
Passenger rail will likely return to the Lehigh Valley next spring for the first time in close to three decades, but it'll only be here for a day.

Amtrak is working on bringing an "inspection train" to the Lehigh Valley that would use existing freight lines to run passengers from the Valley to the New York City metro area, according to an Amtrak executive
...
In October, the three mayors announced their support for a new Road to Rail initiative being led by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. The initiative will study connecting the Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Harrisburg through passenger rail.
...
In the case of the Lehigh Valley, most of the lines belong to Norfolk Southern. Amtrak would need the company to give it right-of-way.

McHugh said Amtrak has a strong relationship with Norfolk Southern and believes something could be worked out.

A Norfolk Southern spokesman also said the company has a history of working with Amtrak.

"In some respects, we are each other's landlords in that every day Amtrak passenger trains use large portions of NS track, and in turn NS uses Amtrak territory to move freight," Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon said in an email. "We do work with Amtrak on special train movements if Amtrak makes such a request, but I can't comment further at this time."
...
For the inspection train run, McHugh said he thinks a date as early as next spring is feasible.

Logistics still need to be worked out in addition to the right-of-way and other clearances, but McHugh tentatively envisions bringing an Amtrak train up to Allentown from Philadelphia.

It would depart from Allentown on a freight line with stops in Bethlehem, Easton, and possibly Phillipsburg. Under a scenario McHugh suggested, the train would continue east on freight lines and eventually connect with NJ Transit's commuter rail lines. The train would then travel on NJ Transit's lines into the New York City metro area.

Marin, of RenewLV, said Jersey City is one possibility for a final destination. Passengers from there could then get on the Port Authority's PATH trains to get into Manhattan.
...
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Dec 11, 2015 1:31 pm

A related article: LehighValleyLive.com

Brief, fair-use:

Commuter rail service in the Lehigh Valley worth a second look, says planning executive

During a presentation before Northampton County Council this week, Executive Director Becky Bradley said she is in favor of taking a fresh look at plans to bring passenger rail lines back to the Lehigh Valley nearly 33 years after the last passenger train left Allentown for New York.

A study funded by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., Lehigh County and Northampton County all but killed the concept in 2010 when it found reconnecting the Valley to NJ Transit would cost $658.9 million. That plan called for building new lines to connect directly to the commuter line in High Bridge.

During Thursday's meeting, however, Bradley said it's possible the planners could find a way for existing freight lines to accommodate passenger trains. Officials in Minneapolis were able to create a passenger rail in 2009 that way, she said, and it created great economic growth for the region.
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby NIMBYkiller » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:38 pm

Well, IF this were to actually happen, it'd sure be a nice addition to the network. I'd hope the stops would be something along the lines of:
Harrisburg, Hershey, Lebanon, Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem, and whatever the westernmost stop for RVL could be (IE, could it justifiably be extended to Easton, or is anything beyond High Bridge asking for too much?), then non-stop to Newark, and into NYP. Question is though, what power source would be used to run into NYP?
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Jeff Smith » Sat Dec 12, 2015 2:34 pm

Next stop, Willoughby
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Re: Amtrak eyes Lehigh Valley Test run to NYC

Postby jp1822 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:35 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Appears to be a "Cub" reporter at a small market newspaper (am I being too much a "paper snob" and belittling the Express-Times to much, Mr. JP?) rummaging trash cans for a story.

The inaccuracies start with the stock photo; when did an ACS-64 become an Acela?


Your assessment seems spot on Mr. Norman. I'm kinda wondering what brought Mr. McHugh up to the Lehigh Valley - does he have a family member going to college up their, interested in seeing the transformation of the South Side into a Casino, or lured by the mayors......I also found it amusing that the reporter has to break this down to an "Amtrak 101?" I think many in the Lehigh Valley know Amtrak operates on freight railroads.......

More like rummaging I. The recycled newspapers......MANY, MANY, MANY years of talking about bringing rail service back to the Valley......yet no action by any rail transit agency or State.

Worst thing that ever happened was SEPTA pulling out what commuter service remained in the 1980s (from Philly to Bethlehem via Lansdale and Hellertown). SEPTA wanted out of the non-electric operations and this was their last service to cut the cord on - or at least one of the last. This actually may have been when David Gunn was trying to salvage SEPTA. And the second worst kinda happened a few years ago when the old Reading Line - that SEPTA used to get to the Lehigh Valley - was made into a rail trail - between Hellertown and Bethlehem.

Does the Lehigh Valley merit rail service. Well if college students are flocking to Amtrak as a means of travel - mimicking largely the Midwest - then ABSOLUTELY. You have a TON of colleges and Universities between Easton and Allentown.

NJT would only want to bring rails to the State Line, at Philipsburg. That might catch a fraction of the commuting market, but it is not going to attract the college students in PA without cars - that are residing across the River.......

So Amtrak could be the best solution - IF THEY GET SERIOUS!!!! It's not gotten serious since passenger rail made its last bow in the Lehigh Valley. Better yet - want rail service - you can now try and get the casino to help or get the colleges/universities to support efforts (eg add pressure).

But this would be nothing but a corridor service between Allentown and Newark/Hoboken. I can't see service going "all the way" to NYC. Even if there were dual modes. Amtrak would be lucky if they could lease diesels from NJT.

So if you talk about a corridor - what's the ridership base?

- Fraction of commuters - to and from perhaps with opportunities in Bethlehem that are merging. But most would be going east in am and west in pm - likely on a limited selection train.

- Leisure riders to/from the Lehigh Valley - especially to the Casino. Most are likely to still drive to their place of work in NJ or NYC. I think the bus market is still strong in the area, but telecommuting is growing in popularity as no one wants to deal with the parking lot of interstate 78 during rush hour.

- College students. College students in the Lehigh Valley do not flock to the buses and with what has been reported in the Midwest with college students and trains - I could see this replicated. Most students to Lehigh University, Moravian, and Lafayette College are from the tri-State area or Mid-Atlantic States. But for this service to be used by college students it would have to be a Downeaster type of corridor. It's a means to get to NYC job interviews or access to the NEC in general.

Change at Newark for Philadelphia/Boston (the "change of trains") could be a hard sell. No real meat in the article on that. Amtrak to Hoboken - nice, but that's like Amtrak serving Suburban Station once again.....It's a hard sell for the NJT Raritan Valley line passengers.....Would have been nice if reporter eluded to this and the fact that the NORTHEAST REGIONAL train that is pictured travels the length of the NEC from A to B with connections to the Amtrak network.....article was written everyone is going to Metro New York. Some options of that are given, but that is surely not the "end of the line. Some "context" of who the riders would be would have been nice - or who the mayors think the riders would be - from Philly or New York, but let's guess after that?

I don't see NS letting Amtrak have trackage rights over what is mostly a single tracked railroad from Allentown to Harrisburg - and a VERY busy one at that. I think double tracking on key parts has been done or in progress with entire length eyed. Again, can't imagine NS granting Amtrak access on that part of route to Harrisburg. Even from Lehigh Valley direct to Philly - that's a tough one. That's another SEPTA wish list in 21st Century - but they sealed their own fate in the 80s with complete lack of vision.

And then there's the funding!!!! No mention as to whether the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would chip in the money, or NJ...... Course if they ran the trains (minimum of four a day round trip to make it a corridor operation) on NJT's Raritan Valley Line that would be best. Is that NJ's contribution - plus some connector track to get from the Lehigh Valley Line to the Raritan River Line (née CNJ)? I only say that because then NJT could then possibly piggy back and run commuter service to Philipsburg. But anything across the Delaware River - PA is going to have to fund - and how, how much, what's involved.

All we know from this article is people's appetite being wetted from the announcement a "test train" could be coming their way. But is this going to be another - " we ran it, now shelf it."

- potential equipment (Amfleets)
- potential market/riders
- potential frequencies (morning rush hour, mid-day, evening rush hour, late evening)
- initial starting and ending points
- funding (big open ended question on that one)

Oh - and it could be coming as early as Spring 2016......the test train. What's the test train really going to do and what are the next steps (reporter could have given some info on that).

So right now, just some nice talk in the newspaper......Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton are pretty large towns and have done a resurgence since the steel mill went elsewhere (but not a total 360). The article could have even gotten more legs if more defined details were given - perhaps as the test train date draws nearer and not in December 2015. Lot of details likely not even known!!!!

So yes, I agree with Mr. Norman.

Even I have GRAND speculation and what COULD BE. I still have a vested interest in the Lehigh Valley. But I've heard this talk for YEARS - well decades now! SEPTA has been gone for decades!

PS - no mention of the rail trail that was completed only a few years ago. This somewhat sealed the fate on SEPTA returning direct to Bethlehem as that was the SEPTA ROW. The McMansions are built right up along portions of the ROW too. Tons of NIMBY'S there......
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Re: Amtrak Lehigh Valley Inspection Train

Postby leviramsey » Tue Dec 15, 2015 10:35 am

Could something like the MBTA's arrangement with Rhode Island work here?

Lehigh Valley authorities pay NJT for all operating costs in PA and keep whatever fare is attributable to the PA travel (e.g. on a trip to Newark, the PA funders get the value of a fare to the first stop east of the river and NJT gets the rest. If the MBTA experience is anything to go by, it might be the only profitable operation they run (no extra cost, especially if LV kicks in whatever new locomotives etc. are needed) and whatever fares they get for travel in NJ are free money.
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby BR&P » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:12 pm

Sounds like a topic more at home in one of the commuter forums, since it's pertaining to the Lehigh Valley geographically rather the the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
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Re: Amtrak Lehigh Valley Inspection Train

Postby jp1822 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:31 pm

leviramsey wrote:Could something like the MBTA's arrangement with Rhode Island work here?

Lehigh Valley authorities pay NJT for all operating costs in PA and keep whatever fare is attributable to the PA travel (e.g. on a trip to Newark, the PA funders get the value of a fare to the first stop east of the river and NJT gets the rest. If the MBTA experience is anything to go by, it might be the only profitable operation they run (no extra cost, especially if LV kicks in whatever new locomotives etc. are needed) and whatever fares they get for travel in NJ are free money.


Due to the corridor length and cross state interaction - and split of ridership so much - I think an Amtrak service would work best; using something similar to Downeaster corridor. NJT would also want to run the trains as locals - taking forever - thus I think Amtrak would be the better operator - key stations in NJ and then major city stops in Pennsylvania.

MODERATOR - not sure why this is back in the Lehigh Valley forum. Makes more sense in passenger forum since This is talking about an emerging corridor and Amtrak running the test train.
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Dec 16, 2015 12:57 pm

ADMIN NOTE: jp: judgement call. I agree it may make sense for Amtrak, It could also end up NJT. But there's no hint of who (whom? :wink: ) would run it yet. That's why I split the topic. So for now, I'm putting discussion of resurrection in the Fallen Flag forum as I'm pretty sure it was an LV service (and considering the LV live source). That was what my historical research led me to. I'll certainly move it back when a good idea of an operator becomes clear. And that's a big if as there are so many other "resurrections" further along with operators identified and just waiting for funding.

The Amtrak thread I just wanted to dedicate to the inspection train as that would definitely be an Amtrak op, and rare mileage. If they want to raise some funds, they should sell excursion tickets to it as well!

I generally hate split topics, but sometimes I'll do it to focus discussion. It was a few posts I moved, too. Certainly, no criticism implied.

Hope you don't mind.

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Re: Amtrak Lehigh Valley Inspection Train

Postby strench707 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 2:01 pm

Another foamy idea to add to the file if Amtrak were to run a service like this (which has been made clear is not happening)...

They could spare a cluster of AEM-7's (or draw from the NJT electric fleet, which would be sensible if the state of NJ was partially funding this train) and have them on one end of the consist with a P42 on the other. That would nullify the need to turn the train at each end and would allow seamless operation into NYP. Pretty much the same exact concept that the ACES train employed.

I'm bringing this up to address the notion that if SOME operator wanted to make this service happen, there are some relatively simple proven options on the table to make it work.

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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:50 pm

I noted same at the parallel Amtrak Forum topic; are we about to start another Lackawanna Cutoff "epic" as at the NJTransit Forum?
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:14 pm

I hope so! I love these exercises, even if only academic....
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Re: Lehigh Valley Passenger Resurrection?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Dec 16, 2015 7:01 pm

OK Mr. Smith; "yo da bauss" around these parts.
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